Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video The camera as a tool for gaining wisdom, part of Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith.
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Rodney Smith: So I was my own client.…I would drive around the roads.…I would see some farmer or some person that appealed to me, and I would take the picture.…These were people that I had nothing to do with when I grew up.…I mean, I grew up in Manhattan, and these are farmers in Wales; sharecroppers in…Mississippi; you know, in Haiti, really, really poor people.…I just felt that these people had a significant gift about life that I was…lacking, that is, that they had this ability to go through life, which was…physically and financially and emotionally very difficult, and yet triumph over it,…that they were positive, funny, good spirited, and I just thought it was amazing.…
I was looking for their secrets.…I was trying to find out, how are you able to do this? How are able to live…these kind of very--by traditional American standards--this very difficult…life and yet still really come out shining?…Chris Orwig: When you have the chance to sit down and talk with someone like Rodney Smith,…someone has who has been creating for forty years, you can't help but think, well,…
The course begins with a wide-ranging conversation between Chris and Rodney, during which they discuss Rodney's work, his approach to photography and models, his love of film and of black and white, and the importance of creating photographs that both ask questions and tell stories. Next, Chris tours Rodney Smith's studio, including the darkroom, to get more familiar with Rodney before photographing him.
Chris then takes a series of portraits of Rodney. Along the way, he reviews his gear choices and the compositional decisions he makes, and discusses the importance of committing photographs to paper, particularly in today's digital age. Finally, Chris reviews the images and shares some insights from his conversation with Rodney.